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HERITAGE VOLUNTEERSNADFASARTS EDUCATION AND HERITAGECONSERVATIONMany people say: "But I don't havethe knowledge or skills required." Idoubt this is true. What's needed isgeneral experience and a willingness tolearn. Everyone starts with a blanksheet; we learn as we go. Each projectis unique, with its own tasks andchallenges. All projects are vetted by theVolunteering Department at NADFASHouse or the Heritage Volunteer team.Within this team there are co-ordinatorscovering textiles, books and archives,arms, armour and metalwork, andgardens. They may not be professionalsin these fields but they have attendedcourses and know which experts toapproachif needed. The team has twoprofessional advisors, textile conservatorZenzie Tinker and assistant museum officerRebecca Walker. If the task is one we canhandle, they will say so, and if it requiresthe skills of an accredited conservator theywill also advise or suggest how HeritageVolunteers can help.There are many book and archiveprojects. The work required may involvecataloguing, cleaning, or repairing thebooks but all you need in the firstinstance is a love of books. Initialtraining is supplied - often at NADFASHouse - with Caroline Bendix, anaccredited member of the Institute ofConservation who regularly works withthe National Trust and English Heritage. For textile projects skills required vary.The skills required for tasks such aspacking costumes to conserve them arereadily acquired over a day's training.Making bags to keep dust off costumesand furniture may sound dull but itand Gardens Data Services website toensure information is available to thepublic and local authorities. Training isprovided. You can photograph thegardens and, if you are computer-literate,enter information onto the database.If youlike interacting with others, tryguiding or stewarding. There's plenty ofsupervision and many guides add toinformation sheets with their own advice.Guides and stewards at the Sir AlfredMunnings Art Museum were helped bybeing taken to see further works of hisat the Castle Museum, Norwich.Heritage Volunteers have been invitedto many other places they would nothave seen before.Northampton Museumand Art Gallery let Heritage Volunteersexplore the depot where undisplayeditems from its Shoe Collectionare held.Volunteering is not just about what yougive but what you receive. While helpingNADFAS fulfil its public benefit remit youcan enjoy rewards such as outings,concert invitations and entrance to othermuseums, galleries and exhibitions.There is great pleasure to be had inmaking new friends and working withold ones. Mainly, though, it is thrilling tobe helping so many great institutions. I hope I have shown that there is noneed to be afraid of volunteering.Everyone who wishes to should be ableto be part of Heritage Volunteering. Caroline Egan is Chairman ofHeritage VolunteersAbove: HeritageVolunteeringeven extends togarden projectsLeft: Thesevolunteers weregiven exclusivebehind-the-scenes access toNorthamptonMuseum and ArtGallery's famousShoe CollectionBottom left:Textile projectsare enormouslypopular but don'talways requireneedlework skills 4NADFAS REVIEWSUPPLEMENT/ SUMMER you to handle wonderful andhistorically important items. Other tasks are more complicated; theaforementioned curtains at Hellens are agood example of what can be done. AtHellens are Heritage Volunteers with lotsof experience and professional skills, butthere are also those with none who weretaught as the project progressedAnother type of textile project is replicawork. These can be garments made forguides or special open days. Requiredskills vary from being able to sew in labelsand making simple pinafores, to makingmore elaborate garments. Working in a large group is usual inlibrary or textile projects and the socialaspect makes them popular. "I learnedwhat it means to be part of a team,"remarks one Heritage Volunteer.You may not think a gardening projectwould involve research in local recordoffices or online. But Heritage Volunteersare currently helping develop the Parks REVIEW SUPPLEMENT/ SUMMER 20105HERITAGE VOLUNTEERSNADFASARTS EDUCATION AND HERITAGECONSERVATIONFor some years Kent HeritageVolunteers have undertaken librarywork. RUSI (Royal United ServicesInstitute for Defence Studies) is perhapsthe longest running endeavour fromKent. Work by Heritage Volunteers fromKnole DFAS in the library at RUSI hasbeen going on for 12 years. As it is aworking library with a full-time librarian,the ladies rarely have to deal with rare orfragile books. However, a favouriteproject was a leather and gilt foliodecorated with the coronet and cipherof Prince William Augustus, son ofGeorge II, and dated 1731. Whenopened it revealed folded paper 'pop-up' skeletal models of two Royal Navyships, HMS Greyhoundand HMSDiamond. It is thought the folio wascommissioned by the Royal Navy for thePrince's birthday. Delicate repairs topaper and broken threads were requiredand the ladies were delighted to see thefolio featured on the Antiques Roadshow.Another group of Heritage Volunteersfrom Sevenoaks and Knole DFASs iscleaning books in the library atwhole sets of works are beautifullyproduced with tooled leather bindings.Other work included a rescueoperation at Leeds Castle. Mid KentDFAS received a call requesting urgenthelp: an overnight guest had allowed abath to overflow and the water hadseeped onto the books below in thelibrary. These were taken away to afreeze-dry facility. The NADFAS BookConservator assessed what needed tobe done, organised training and theHeritage Volunteers got to work.In 2004, following further training, thesame group of volunteers started workat the Royal Engineers' Library at theirbarracks in Chatham, which housesphotographs, maps, books and journals.The nature of the materials worked withpreviously augmented the techniquesneeded by the group to deal with thewide range of problems encountered.Such demands have clarified the needfor annual retraining and reassessmentdays across all groups. Each trainingday leaves us more confident andcapable, exhausted but exhilarated. In the first of two accounts of Heritage Volunteer activities in historically important libraries,Melinda Robinson, of Knole DFAS, describes the delight of working with booksQuiet pleasuresLullingstone Castle. Small, perhaps2,000-3,000 books, it is a quintessentialgentleman's country library. LullingstoneCastle is deep in the Darenth Valley inKent. For many years it was the home ofthe silk industry in England. It is alsohome to Tom Hart Dyke's World Garden.For eight months of the year, teamsfrom Knole and Sevenoaks DFASs arewarmly welcomed by Sarah Hart Dyke,who makes us feel special with tea,cakes and other goodies. In fineweather, a picnic lunch in a sunny spotby the old garden wall is a delight. Some of the books need littleattention, save a thorough brushing anda completed worksheet. Some,however, represent a challenge -notjust because they are in poor condition,but often because they are sointeresting. It can be difficult toconcentrate on the work in hand whenpage after page is illustrated andannotated by previous readers. Becausethere were a number of clergymen inprevious generations of the Hart Dykefamily, sermons are well represented:Below: Librarywork can beenormouslyabsorbing, especially wherebooks containannotations and otherenhancementsby previousreaders